The other day I walked to work with a dear friend of mine. She’s someone I used to work with and used to see nearly every day. We decided in a relatively unspoken way that we liked each other too much to let our friendship end just because we’ve stopped working together.
Too many friendships end that way. And take it from me, someone who’s seen a lot of friendships end, friendships are too important to let die like weeds in an abandoned lot.
But we let them die. I’ve gotten too busy for some or someone’s moved away or it’s just not convenient. When you advance in years and look back at the people you’ve let fall by the wayside, well, it’s just a little sad. Of course, it’s somewhat inevitable, but my two cents say, to paraphrase a bit of Dylan Thomas, you should rage, rage against the dying of the smile.
I pick my friend up outside of her apartment. Depending on the crush of the day’s demands, we walk either for 20 minutes (which is too short) or an hour (which is also too short.)
About a week ago as we set out on our route I spotted a dime on the sidewalk and stopped to pick it up.
My friend said, “You see everything.”
On Tuesday, it happened again. This time I stopped and picked up a penny.
We smiled at each other.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Not the 11-cents I found. But about something else.
About making yourself aware of the bright, shiny things around you. Even if they’re small and seemingly inconsequential.
We should be looking for smiles, looking for wisdom, laughter, or even, the slimmest glimmer of love.
Too often, in life, in work, with our families, we shut ourselves off from beauty. We shut ourselves off from the bright and shiny.
Because we all get lost and distracted and denuded and, maybe, deranged by the over-bearing crush of the every day. Everyday.
We worry about our next deliverable, our next meeting, our next task. The next thing that absolutely, positively cannot be ignored, or denied or not put front and center. As an ex-client once answered when I asked her which “to-do” was top-priority, ‘everything is top priority.’
Except it’s not.
Work undoubtedly is important. Coming through professionally for yourself, your agency, your clients, is important. Building, fighting for and protecting your career. They’re all important.
But making sure you’re keen is just as important. That you’re not so snowed-under that you lose sight of life around you.
Because if you do stop seeing, as so many of us have seemed to, you’ll miss the glint of a penny on the street. You’ll miss the spark in a piece of creative work. You’ll miss the opportunities in work and life that you’ve been too busy to notice. You’ll miss friendship, and learning, and laughter.
And you'll probably miss the chance to do your best work. Because you'll be too miserable to smile.